As I’ve mentioned before, I love Instagram.
It’s a simple iPhone app that makes your photo of a burrito look like Ansel Adams took it.
If a lot of people “like” your photo, it gets put on the “popular page.” If you end up on the popular page, a lot of people see your photo, you get a ton of followers and gain a sliver of Internet fame.
So, people have started “gaming” the popular photo process. In order to get folks to tap on their photo, which is how you register a like, users have stopped taking photos. Instead, they’ll post simple messages on colored backgrounds that say things like:
“Tap if you wish cancer didn’t exist.”
“Tap if you are against bullying.”
Those are ridiculous of course, because who is going to say, “Nah, I’m actually pro cancer. I’m not going to like your photo.” Or “Here’s the thing, I am a huge supporter of bullying. In the streets, in the schools, in mall food courts by Cinnabon. I can’t tap your photo.” This approach to Instagram is a cheesy way to manipulate people into getting your photo to the popular page.
But, we Christians sometimes unknowingly use these same kind of tactics when it comes to raising money for mission trips. I say “unknowingly” because there’s nothing noble that results from you manipulating someone into helping you get to the popular page.
When you’re raising money for a mission trip, however, the project is noble, and I don’t think people are trying to manipulate potential donors. Sometimes though, despite our best intentions, we end up writing some crazy things. Here is a direct message someone I’ve never met sent me a few weeks ago:
“Hey Jon, would you consider being a part of the Great Commission and helping send me to Brazil this summer?”
On that face of it, that’s not a big deal. But let’s talk for a second about the two possible responses that question gives me.
1. Yes, I want to be part of the Great Commission. Here’s some money.
2. No, I don’t want to be part of the Great Commission. I hate the Great Commission. In fact, I actually call it the “Good Commission,” just so it knows how I feel. And don’t get me started on Brazil. Why you gotta hog the whole Amazon rainforest Brazil and be so amazing at futbol? I call Brazil, “South Portugal” just to make them mad!
And I’m not opposed to raising money online. We’ve raised a lot on SCL over the years and will hopefully continue to do that as a community. I think folks like Shaun King are doing amazing work with online fundraisers. But when you do raise money, especially online, be smart about what you say and how you say it. There’s a huge difference between:
“I love orphans and feel called to meet their needs. Would you help me?”
“Do you want to be part of orphans not living on the street? If yes, give me money. If no, why do you hate orphans so much? How does that feel? Orphan hatin’? I bet you’ve got something against giving orphans goats too. You probably hate goats, cute little baby goats.”
And above all, when sending a mission trip fundraising letter, tweet or email, make sure you include the line that no pitch is complete without,
“If you can’t support me financially, I would really appreciate your prayers.”
Have you ever given money online to a cause?